Auditors Nexia set up BVI offshore firm for Shanghai Electric engineer

Chinese national Cheng Chen is Shanghai Electric Power engineer who in 2014 assumed control of offshore company set up in May 2013 by Nexia BT

Konrad Mizzi (left) with Shanghai Electric representatives. Cheng Chen is not in this photograph.
Konrad Mizzi (left) with Shanghai Electric representatives. Cheng Chen is not in this photograph.

Nexia BT, the auditors who set up offshore firms with Mossack Fonseca in Panama for the former energy minister Konrad Mizzi, had also incorporated an offshore company for a Chinese engineer employed with Shanghai Power Electric, the Chinese state-owned firm which acquired a 33% stake in Enemalta.

The company Torbridge Services Inc, was incorporated on 29 May 2013 by Nexia BT, and appears in the Panama Papers. The incorporation was flagged by Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Cheng Chen is a C&I engineer for SEP, the company which acquired a €320 million stake in the ailing national energy corporation to gain a foothold in the European renewables market. Shanghai Electric effectively took control of the Delimara power station extension, also known as the ‘BWSC turbine’.

There is no suggestion as yet that a connection exists with Nexia BT’s more famous client, but it was in 2013 that energy minister Konrad Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat travelled to China where they announced the multi-million deal. The final deal was signed in March 2014.

The ultimate beneficial ownership of Torbridge, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands through the Mossack Fonseca subsidiary ATC Administrations, was transferred to Chen from Nexia BT senior partner Brian Tonna, who had been holding it as a shell until 2014.

In a previous leak of offshore details by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists on Chinese officials, the journalists’ organisation had commented that Chinese offshore wealth tends to disguise “conflict of interest and covert use of government power” according to Minxin Pei, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California.

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